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I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." -John 14:1-7

Well, we are continuing again with our I am statements that Jesus makes, and when we have one more Sunday after this, I was looking forward to this one, and I'll have to say things have taken a little bit of a turn in my preaching on it today than where I'd originally thought I was going, because as I started looking at this, and it's a very familiar one, it's one that often I preach on and often gets requested at funerals, because there are some promises that Jesus makes in this 14th Chapter of John that are good ones that we wanna be able to turn to those... And I hadn't really thought about it until this week, but Jesus opening in Verse 1 is not exactly a strong opening, it's words that maybe we wanna hear at the time of a loss of a loved one, but it's also one of those statements that has the potential of having the opposite effect. Have you ever made the mistake of uttering one of those phrases with good intentions that has the opposite effect? Phrases like, Just relax. Calm down. It doesn't work, does it? You might try it once or twice, but you realize that it usually does have that opposite effect, that if someone's hysterical and you're saying, relax, calm down, it usually ratches things up a couple levels.

Well, Jesus is speaking to the disciples this morning and says, Don't let your hearts be troubled. Now, this passage falls within a body of chapters and John that are referred to as Jesus' farewell discourse. And if we look back just a verse or two at the end of chapter 13, this is when Jesus tells Peter, Hey, look, you're gonna deny me three times before the cock crows. And then the next words out of Jesus mouth are, Don't let your hearts be troubled. Now, I don't know about you or anybody else that would have been present, but I think for Peter, those words would not have had that effect. Wait a minute, you just said, I'm gonna deny you. What do you mean? Don't let my heart be troubled, and yet Jesus, Jesus can speak these words with some authority, because he follows it up with the reasons why those who are listening should not let their heart be troubled. Jesus begins by saying, Don't let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and believe also in me. And then he begins telling them, in my Father's house, there are so many rooms, and I'm going to prepare a place there for you.

And if I prepare a place, I'll come and I'll take you to where I am. And you know the way to where I'm going. I think Jesus is knowing where this conversation is going, he spent three years with these disciples after all... I can't imagine the number of times Jesus just shook his head thinking, Oh, my word. Are they ever gonna get it? And it's Thomas, who speaks up and says, How can we know the way when we don't know where you're going? Which brings us to this I am statement that Jesus makes. He set him up, he laid the groundwork, he said, alright, I'm going to go to that place and prepare a place for you, so that where I am, you may be also... And you know the way, and Thomas says, Wait a minute, but we don't know where you're going, how are we gonna know the way... If any of you ever have been using a cell phone or GPS or had somebody who simply gave you directions and gotten lost, in spite of all of the maps and things you have available that you get lost... It's happened to me, and it's usually because I'm following a set of directions that involve something like, turn left at the second stoplight and then go three blocks and turn right...

Those are good instructions, they're clear, their understanding you count how many stop lights you count how many blocks. The problem is, if you're starting in the wrong spot and start counting those lights and blocks, it's not getting you where you're going, you need to know where you're at, you need to know what the beginning point is for those directions to make any sense. And that's where Thomas is kind of struggling with this, saying Jesus, How can we know the way if we don't even know where it is you're going to... We need some frame of reference for all of this, and that's when Jesus gives them that frame of reference and speaks those words, I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. Now, there's a lot that we need to begin looking at and talking about in here, because one of the things about this statement is that often it's used as a criticism, as a rebuke, as a statement in which people are said, Okay, there's only one way, because Jesus even follows this statement up by saying, No one comes to the Father except through me, and is seen as a very exclusive statement, either you're in, you're out, and it's almost as if Jesus is the bouncer at the door saying, No, you can't come in, or yep, you've got your ticket stamped to come on in, and it's used exclusively in that regard, it's used as a counterpoint to a Hindu statement that sometimes gets expanded into this idea of pluralism of many different beliefs, and the Hindu quote is many roads lead to the top of the mountain. But the view is the same. There are some people who have taken that to say, well, there are many roads that lead to God, but they're all equal and all of value.

Well, that's a whole different discussion for another day, but the idea is that this statement is taken from John is saying, Oh no, there are not many roads that lead to the top of the mountain in the view is not the same, because Jesus said, I am the way, and the problem in doing so is that people